College Sports Briefing Episode 002: The College Athlete Employee Union Edition

  1. Introduction, Background and Overview
    1. Kain Colter and Northwestern Kicked This Off
    2. Are college athletes employees?
    3. Where things go from here
  2. Kain Colter and Northwestern Kicked This Off
    1. Filed Petition with the Regional NLRB in Chicago
    2. Want better health care, stipend to cover full cost of attendance.  (Probably won’t stop there).
    3. Backed by College Athletes Players Association and the United Steelworkers Union
    4. This petition would only cover football and men’s basketball athletes at private universities (public universities union rights are governed by their respective state laws).
  3. Are College Athletes Employees?
    1. Went into great detail on this in most recent blog post.
    2. With one exception in the 50s, student-athletes have not been designated employees (U of Denver; led to SA term)
    3. NLRB definition very broad
    4. Websters – a person who works for another person or for a company for wages or a salary; NLRB – Broader
      1. SAs are people
      2. Do they work?  
      3. Assuming they work, is it for another person?
      4. For wages or a salary?  This is where it gets interesting.
    5. Other key place to look to determine this is prior NLRB cases, and while student-athletes have not come up in that context before, graduate assistants have and closely parallel student-athletes.
      1. Up to 2000 – graduate assistants not employees
        1. Stanford case in 1974
        2. St. Clare’s case in 1977
      2. 2000 – NYU case designates graduate assistants employees
      3. 2004 – Brown case reverses NYU and returns to pre-NYU precedent/law
      4. Why the back and forth?  NLRB is 5 members appointed by the president.  So it tends to lean toward expansion of union opportunities during Democratic presidencies and go the other way during Republican ones.
    6. How does this apply to SAs?
      1. If NLRB, which is now more Democratic, chose to reinstate NYU, student-athletes could be in good shape.
      2. If not, SAs could still win by distinguishing themselves from the unfavorable decisions
  4. Where do we go from here?
  5. Outro / Credits

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